With a back story that includes The Chicago Civic Orchestra, Milwaukee Wisconsin, MGMT and surprise surprise, plenty of French Horn, it’s safe to assume the French Horn Rebellion aren’t your standard slab of indie-tinged dance cowardice. They are if anything, very much their own.
Made up of brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, the former being, well a former French Hornist in the Chicago Civic Orchestra, and the latter working as a producer, working with MGMT on the production of their debut album Time To Pretend, French Horn Rebellion might be making a little more sense to you now. Making danceable 80’s-esque pop music, this duo are heading over our way to play NYE On The Harbour alongside Architecture In Helsinki and Bag Raiders off the back of their debut album The Infinite Music Of French Horn Rebellion. We spoke to the brothers about New Year’s Eve coming to Sydney as well as their unique back story and their exciting future.
Music Feeds: You guys are set to play NYE On The Harbour here in Sydney; are you excited?
Robert: We’re extremely excited. We’ve never even BEEN to Australia, much less played there. It’s going to be an amazing experience.
MF: Can you tell me about your last New Year’s Eve? Any lessons you’re going to be carrying over to this one?
R: Last New Year’s Eve was a whole lot of fun. We had decided it had been too long since we got to enjoy the holiday without performing. So, some old friends from college came into town, and we hit up a fancy brownstone in midtown. The person was throwing the party at his parent’s New York abode, and was a friend of a friend of a friend. We brought some beers and got to know everybody pretty quick (and also pretended to be much fancier than we actually are)! The lesson I learned last year was if you crash a fancy party, make sure you bring good beer.
D: In New York, New Year’s Eve is a lot like Halloween. People who don’t normally rage are out and not holding back. You must watch out for them if you want to stay relatively clean.
MF: New Year’s Eve is a very special night of the year; what makes it special for you?
R: I like doing the count-down. You know, the 5-4-3-2-1!! I always am really nervous around 10 or 11 o’ clock because it’s tradition to kiss somebody at midnight, or you’ll have bad luck for the rest of the year. So it’s crunch time around 11:30!!
D: Robert, I am not going to kiss you this year
MF: So Robert has a background in classical music; how do you bring that to bear on the music of French Horn Rebellion?
R: Playing horn in an orchestra gives you a good ear on how to write parts for instruments, and what kind of arrangements would work musically. During our live show I’ll whip it out a few times to play some jazz-fusion rock n’ roll French Horn ripping. If my teachers saw me doing this, I think they would be a bit offended!
Watch: French Horn Rebellion – What I Want
MF: David of course has his roots in production; does that mean he plays more of a guiding or refining role while Robert handles the music or is it an equal partnership?
R: David is indeed more the ‘producer’ in the collaboration. Most of the songwriting and initial production comes from me. A lot of times, the demos I make are a whole lot wackier and un-listenable. David really brings out the good stuff in them and refines the sounds into what they are now.
D: My real background is in music composition. Over the years I’ve gotten heavily interested in production and technology almost by default in order to make recordings of my own writings.
MF: Your bio mentions that it was after David worked on Time To Pretend by MGMT that he decided to ‘follow his nose’ into what was to become French Horn Rebellion. What was it about that experience that motivated and moved you?
D: Andrew and Ben always seemed to make their creative decisions based on things that really inspired them or tickled them in some fun way. That’s what I always did when I was a kid and somehow along the way to adulthood. With the demands of the real world etc, I felt like the elusive opinions of others were always more important than my own. After working on the MGMT project, I realised that I needed to take my own thoughts and feelings a bit more seriously. I’ve found that I, like everyone, has a unique set of valuable experiences and finding the courage to use them is a good skill to balance. In that project I got to be more myself than any other I was currently working on and that feeling was very rewarding.
MF: Now Robert too was inspired to leave behind a life, in his case the life of a French Hornist, to follow that of an aspiring musician; can you tell me about the frustrations that made him want to make the change?
R: Well being a French horn player is a lot of fun, and something I wish I could continue to do professionally. However, I don’t think I was cut out to be one. Playing an instrument at a high level is like being a fine carpenter. Your master teaches you (the apprentice) how to create a chair, and so for the rest of your life, you learn to make a perfect chair with great craftsmanship. For a horn player, it’s like learning the great excerpts. You have a teacher that gives you the knowledge of how to execute the perfect horn solo, and you play it that way for the rest of your life. My strengths as a horn player were never in playing music perfectly, I was always good at creatively interpreting the music. So, I started writing my own stuff, where I could record something and not have to worry about performing it perfectly every time. I found this much more rewarding, and so am still doing that today.
MF: The album is finished and out; how does that feel to have it behind you?
R: It feels great! I’m really excited to get going on the new music as well. There are a lot of great new tunes that we have not gotten to yet.
D: Watch out for the new videos that expose the story embedded in the current album . . . Mawson’s Peak will be the first we unveil. Getting these videos out that match our original conception for the album feels amazing.
MF: What next for you guys? Any plans for the next album and where it might head?
R: 3 words. NEW JACK SWING.
D: Should we really give away our secret for the new album Robert?